Staff Leadership Book Pick of the Month: Eyes Wide Open

Did you know research shows an average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day?1, 2

A study out of Cornell University found we make an average of roughly 227 food and beverage decisions a day.3 In the book Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decision in a Confusing World, Noreena Hertz mentions that most of these decisions are not a big deal. If we decide to be adventurous and try something new at a restaurant and end up not liking it, we have learned a lesson about not getting that entree again. But that was the only loss except the small financial burden of the bill.

However, if we are the CEO of a company that is thinking of expanding the business into another country, we would have to do our due diligence to research the choice thoroughly before making a final decision.

Hertz, a best-selling author and associate director at the Centre for International Business and Management at the Judge School, University of Cambridge, has written this book containing a 10-step toolkit to help you develop into an “empowered decision-maker.” The 10 steps walk you through the process of making an informed, thoroughly thoughtful decision.

She shares research, stories and practical applications to demonstrate and reveal her process. The second step stands out as one of the most important and is titled "Seeing the Tiger and the Snake."4

This chapter contains the story of how H.F. Chua studied the way American and Chinese students viewed a photograph of a tiger. The Americans only focused on the focal point — in this case, the tiger. The Chinese, on the other hand, focused on the tiger and then the area surrounding the tiger, where they found sun, clouds, mountains — and a deadly snake.

The point was that we tend to focus on particular information instead of taking in the whole picture before making a decision. We must look beyond the data before making a final decision, or we might not see the deadly snake. Hertz follows up with some quick tips about focusing on the whole picture.

This layout of the second step (research, examples, takeaways and quick tips) is the same in every chapter. That is why this book is one you not only will want to read but also keep. You can pull this book off your bookshelf any time you have a tough decision to make, reread the takeaways and quick tips, and remember the stories that go with it that will help you keep your eyes wide open and seeing everything before making that critical choice.

You make about 35,000 decisions a day, but a little help with the complicated ones can certainly make life a little easier.


  1. Sahakian, B. J. & Labuzetta, J. N. (2013). Bad moves: how decision making goes wrong, and the ethics of smart drugs. London: Oxford University Press.
  2. Hoomans, J. (2015, March 20). 35,000 Decisions: The Great Choices of Strategic Leaders. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from….
  3. Wansink, B. & Sobal, J. (2007). Mindless eating: The 200 daily food decisions we overlook. Environment and Behavior, 39:1, 106-123.
  4. Chua, H.F. ,Boland, J.E. & Nisbett, R.E (2005). Cultural variation in eye movement during scene perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 102, 35, 12629-12633.

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